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Kaprun disaster

From Academic Kids

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Kaprun.train.750pix.jpg
The white funicular train is waiting at the valley station. It enters the tunnel where the fire occurred after the short open-air section on the trestles. The tunnel entrance is just visible as a black dot at the end of the trestles.

The Kaprun disaster was the result of a fire that occurred in an ascending railway car in the tunnel of funicular train "Gletscherbahn 2" in Kaprun, Austria, on November 11, 2000. The disaster claimed the lives of 155 people.

Most of the people who died were passengers in the carriage in which the fire broke out. Three people in the Alpine Centre at the top of the mountain were asphyxiated by the thick smoke that travelled up the tunnel and into the Alpine Centre, located at the end of the track 2500 metres away. The railway's second train was descending the mountain and above the burning carriage at the time of the fire. In it the conductor and its sole occupant died of asphyxiation.

Twelve passengers from the train survived by climbing out a smashed window and running downhill past the fire which had broken out in the rear of the train. The train driver quickly realised a fire had broken out and opened the train doors. The remaining passengers from the train ran uphill away from the flames but were all were smothered by the smoke. The tunnel acted like a giant chimney, sucking oxygen in from the bottom and sending toxic smoke billowing upwards. The train driver also died.

Nearly one year after the fire, the official inquiry determined the cause was a faulty heater in the train and highly flammable hydraulic brake oil.

The funicular was never re-opened after the disaster.

The victims were skiers on their way to the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier:

  • 92 Austrians
  • 37 Germans
  • 10 Japanese
  • 8 Americans
  • 4 Slovenians
  • 2 Dutch
  • 1 Briton
  • 1 Czech

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